When Your Backup Plan Fails, You Pay Dearly for Recovery

October 23, 2018

My first NAS server was purchased in 2007. In more than nine years of service, there was never any data loss. At one point the power supply needed replacement and that also got me looking at replacing the NAS box in the near future. When it came time for that I replacement, I went with one of the 10-drive models from Asustor. We kept a lot of important data and backups on it. Even better, we could securely access it from anywhere in the world.

For a year and a half, it was flawless. Then disaster struck in early September 2018. I walked away from the computer for maybe five minutes to grab some lunch and came back to find my computer had rebooted. When the computer came back, I was unable to access the NAS drive. I now know there was a very brief power outage or surge in the short time I stepped away. All of the equipment utilizes “surge protectors” so a surge shouldn’t have caused a problem. No, they aren’t foolproof though I don’t think a surge was behind this problem.

One of the benefits of the way I had configured the NAS box was that any single drive were to fail. Replace the failed drive and the system would rebuild itself. Given that I had a decade of history without a single failed drive, this plan seemed solid. The power outage killed two drives and thus I was in deep trouble and I knew the solution would be very expensive.

I contacted a nearby firm that specialized in Data Recovery, appropriated named datarecovery.com. To me the best case scenario would be recovering one of the failed drives so that the data could be pulled off the NAS box safely. Unfortunately it was closer to the worst case scenario involving all ten drives. Yes, they got my data back though the cost was high. Just tells you the true value of our data!

In order to provide the data back to me, I had to purchase a storage medium and went with the Western Digital 10 TB External Drive. While this added to my overall bill, it was a minimal bite in my wallet.

The two failed drives obviously needed to be replaced. But I was concerned the other eight could potentially fail. Therefore I bit the bullet and got ten new drives as an insurance policy against more failure. Yet again more expense. As I reconfigured the drive, I chose to use RAID 6 instead of RAID 5. This would allow any two drives to fail and simply require replacement to recover.

As a last piece of insurance, I connected the computer, NAS server and monitor to a uninterrupted power supply. All the data is safely back online after nearly a month and a big bill.

I now have a stronger data policy in place, though there are still potential points of failure. I can only hope that the fluke disaster doesn’t get any worse should it happen again.

Photo by unsplash-logoNikolas Noonan

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5 Comments

  1. Ken Graham

    And your plan for a fire when 10 drives are toast, literally or when your server is stolen in a night time robbery?

    The issue is your amount of Data, this is going to take longer than a long weekend to restore so you might want to segment it. Accounting, Client Data, Clipart and fonts, Archive – programs etc, . For a complete duplicate remote backup see Section 2 below.

    With the above type of data segmentation the next question is what backup program to use, I am going to suggest , drum roll …. WinRAR, though you might also try another like 7zip, down load free full operational trial from http://www.ninite.com But But thats not a backup program you say. No it is better.

    Okay, what happens if you copy everything to a DVD or BlueRays?
    The data becomes Read Only and when copied back to a hard drive a direct copy now has all files and programs READ ONLY. But if you Zip everything your data Restores with correct Attribute set, that is if you had a Read Only setting on a Network program it restores the same way, if not Read Only it restores that way.

    You can also save batch files so once you have figured out everything you want to backup it becomes a 1 button click and then go home for the night. We do this saving to a attached external Hard drive device and use multiple hard drives we rotate through so we have a few nights backups and therefore can have at home, in the vehicle, & at work, note password protection can provide protection from a lost disk.

    You can save as Zip or Rar but if you save as Rar, you can also save a Data Recovery Record of say 1 or 2% of file size so if a small portion of drive is damaged the files can still be recreated. This is really useful if spanning multiple disks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAR_(file_format) with version 5 also apparently a Rar5 can optionally create a “quick open record”, a special archive block at the end of the file that contains the names of files included, allowing archives to be opened faster.

    Section 2. If and you want it all backed up I hope your NAS has a RSYNC style backup available. With an RSYNC style backup you create a duplicate on a similar system though it should have perhaps 3 times actual used data capacity of original as you are keeping perhaps a 2 year back in type capability it normally can be set to append data so for instance you could go back any day the last week, then perhaps weekly the last month, then perhaps monthly then the previous year. Our NAS is a Workstation, mirrored drive running a flavor of Linux from http://www.contribs.org.

    Initially your backup unit needs to be in the same location so you can duplicate over your Gig or 10 Gig network with After your initial backup is complete which could still take a few days, you ideally take your backup home from office and future backups consist of a daily automated download of the changes to your data which may be 10 to 30 minutes nightly assuming you have ADSL , Cable, or Fiber.

    Reply
    • Foster D. Coburn III

      Plans and procedures are in place for everything you’ve described.

      Reply
  2. soden

    Do you think the Microsoft OneDrive would be a good solution for a backup system?

    Reply
    • Foster D. Coburn III

      Any cloud drive could be a solution as long as the backups happen regularly and you have enough bandwidth and space to backup all of your data.

      Reply
  3. Clive Soden

    Foster, thanks for your reply.

    Reply

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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